HC Deb 13 February 1967 vol 741 cc86-7
15. Mr. Iremonger

asked the Minister of Health if he will receive a deputation from the Dental Laboratories Association Limited to discuss the desirability of Ministerial control of the price paid by dentists for the products of members of the Association.

Mr. K. Robinson

No, Sir. I do not think this would be useful.

Mr. Iremonger

Why will not the Minister see these people, since it is apparent, from the Answers to earlier Questions, that a real problem exists here and that the right hon. Gentleman should see them? Will the right hon. Gentleman meet this deputation and perhaps tell them to submit the case to the Restrictive Practices Court if they are to get the sort of protection which will keep up the quality of work?

Mr. Robinson

I think that the hon. Gentleman is under a misapprehension about my position in this matter. I have already told him, in answer to earlier Questions, that the question of the fees paid by a dentist for dental protheses are a matter for the dentist and his supplier. I agree that increases in the price of dental protheses are subject to the Government's general policy on prices and incomes, but I have no evidence that additional measures to control these prices would be in the interests of the patient or the taxpayer.

Mr. Atkinson

I hope that my right hon. Friend will change his mind about receiving this deputation. Is he aware that as a result of the fees paid to dentists for dentures, particularly partdentures, standards are falling disastrously and that many National Health Service patients are receiving ill-fitting teeth made of inferior quality material? Is he aware that these patients are receiving teeth made from second-class materials and that even the modem techniques of fitting teeth are not being used because of the low fees?

Mr. Robinson

I would not accept what my hon. Friend says, although I know that the Dental Laboratories Association has made a general assertion about the decline of standards. If my hon. Friend has any factual evidence to provide, I assure him that I will be glad to receive it.

Miss Pike

Is not it churlish of the Minister not to agree to see this deputation, in view of the disquiet that exists over this matter? Will he agree to see these people, since no harm could be done and a lot of good might result?

Mr. Robinson

No, Sir. I do not think it would be appropriate for me to do so, since these fees are a matter between the Association and the dental profession.

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